Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pickin' up pawpaws and puttin' 'em in your pocket...

We have a shrub or small tree in the back yard, right in front of the master bath, that blocks the window nicely (when it has leaves; it's deciduous).

I've always wondered what it was; it didn't look like anything I'd seen before. And this spring, the mystery deepened when small green pods appeared on the branches:

Photo of fruit:

Photo of foliage:

After weeks of procrastination, I finally took some photos and brought them in to work for our master gardeners to look at. Tom, the state master gardener coordinator, works downstairs, and my coworker Kim is a master gardener as well.

The two puzzled over the photos briefly, and Kim pulled out a book titled "Florida's Best Fruiting Plants" (they both have an impressive library of plant geekery).

Mystery solved! It's a Pawpaw tree; Latin name Asimina triloba. According to the very handy web site, it's native to the Eastern U.S. and likes rich, well-drained soil. The strange little pods are the fruit, which mature up to 3-6 inches long and have a creamy interior full of black seeds. The taste has been compared to a banana or pineapple. We'll see if our pods make it to maturity; our squirrels number in the hundreds and dang, are they hungry beasts.

Our particular specimen has been there for some time, although it doesn't look like a tree; it looks like a shrub, meaning it has growing to do. Which is unfortunate, as Kyle will be cutting it down if it gets too big. I wonder if whoever planted it right next to the house knew pawpaw trees can grow up 25 feet!

What the interior of the fruit looks like:

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Free for any use.)

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